News, WW2

Hurricane Takes RAF Veteran Pilot to the Skies for 101st Birthday

How many of us can brag about flying a plane at age 101, let alone a Hurricane fighter?

On his 101st birthday, a seasoned pilot from Jersey took to the skies once again. 

The Hawker Hurricane

Designed by Sydney Camm, the Hawker Hurricane was a British fighter aircraft that played a crucial role in the early stages of World War II. The aircraft flew for the first time on 6 November 1935.

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The Hurricane was a single-seat fighter with a fabric-covered metal fuselage and wings. Its armament consisted of eight.303-inch Browning machine guns, four mounted in each wing. A Rolls-Royce Merlin engine powered the aircraft. The engine allowed it to reach a max speed of 340 mph and operate at an altitude of 36,000 feet.

Hawker Hurricane
The only original airworthy Hurricane from The Battle of Britain. Camm flew such an aircraft during WW2

During the Battle of Britain in 1940, the Hurricane was the most widely used RAF fighter. The Hurricane destroyed more enemy aircraft than any other British aircraft had ever before. It was particularly effective against German bombers, which made up the bulk of the Luftwaffe’s offensive force.

Despite being overshadowed by the more famous Supermarine Spitfire, the Hurricane was a critical component of Britain’s air defence. Its rugged construction and reliability made it popular with pilots. As a result, it continued to serve in various roles throughout the war, including ground attack and maritime patrol.

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The RAF produced 14,000 Hurricanes. Many of these were exported to countries including Canada, Belgium, and the Soviet Union. 

Today, a small number of Hurricanes remain airworthy and can be seen at air shows and aviation museums worldwide.

The Royal Air Force (RAF)

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the air arm of the British Armed Forces. It was founded on April 1, 1918, during World War I, as an independent branch of the British military, making it the oldest independent air force in the world.

The RAF played a crucial role in the defence of Britain during World War II. During the Battle of Britain, the RAF successfully defended the country against sustained German air attacks. 

Hawker Hurricane
Mechanics of 501 Squadron repairing a Hurricane. The powerful machine guns can clearly be seen in the wing.

The RAF continued to play a vital role in the war effort, providing air support for Allied forces during the invasion of Normandy and conducting strategic bombing raids against Germany.

Reuniting with the Hawker Hurricane after more than 80 years!

Bernard Gardiner flew the world’s only two-seat Hawker Hurricane, which he had last piloted more than 80 years ago during the Second World War.

This flight was a gesture of gratitude from the Hawker Preservation Group. Bernard had assisted in fundraising efforts to rebuild another aircraft, the Hawker Typhoon, which he had also flown during WW2. The group aims to raise £6.5m to restore the Hawker Typhoon to its former magnificence.

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Bernard’s passion for flying was sparked when he won a complimentary flight at a flying circus in the early 1930s. The man had joined the RAF at the young age of 18, serving his country until the end of the Second World War.

After his service, Bernard pursued a career as a commercial pilot and had the honour of meeting Queen Elizabeth II at Gatwick Airport in 1958. Last year, on his 100th birthday, Bernard shared with ITV News that he had accumulated over 18,000 flight hours throughout his career. Truly a feat that not many achieve.